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Subnational demographic projections

The following highlights are based on the respective mid-range projection series, one of many series produced of population, broad ethnic populations, and families and households.

  • Population growth is projected to slow in all 16 regions between 2006 and 2031.
  • All regions, cities, and districts will be home to more people aged 65 years and over (65+) in 2031.
  • Deaths will outnumber births in over one-third of territorial authority areas by 2031.
  • Two-fifths of New Zealand's 73 territorial authority areas will have fewer residents in 2031 than in 2006.
  • The majority of the population growth is projected to occur in the North Island. Sixty percent of New Zealand's population growth between 2006 and 2031 will be in the Auckland region.
  • The populations of all four broad ethnic groups will increase in both the North and South Islands during the period 2006–21. The North Island will account for 69, 82, 89, and 92 percent of New Zealand's 'European or Other', Māori, Asian, and Pacific population growth, respectively, between 2006 and 2021.
  • In the North Island, the 'European or Other', Māori, Asian, and Pacific populations will increase by an average of 0.4, 1.3, 3.7, and 2.4 percent a year, respectively. The corresponding South Island increases are projected to be 0.5, 1.9, 3.7, and 2.8 percent a year.
  • The North Island is expected to remain home to about 72 and 89 percent of New Zealand's 'European or Other', and Asian populations, respectively, during 2006–21. However, the North Island will slightly decrease its share of the Māori population, from 87 to 86 percent, and its share of the Pacific population, from 94 to 93 percent.
  • All 16 of New Zealand's regions are projected to have more households in 2031 than in 2006.
  • Auckland region is projected to account for 48 percent of the national growth in the number of households.
  • Nine territorial authorities are projected to have fewer households in 2031 than in 2006; 29 are projected to decrease in population.
  • All 16 of New Zealand's regions are projected to have more ‘couple without children’ families and one-person households in 2031 than in 2006.
  • A continued decline in average household size is projected for all regions and territorial authorities between 2006 and 2031.

Introduction

This chapter presents the latest subnational demographic projections for New Zealand. It includes projections of total population, population by age, ethnic populations, and the number of households and families.

These projections are not predictions or forecasts, but are an indication of future demographic change using assumptions about future patterns in fertility (births), mortality (deaths), migration, inter-ethnic mobility, and living arrangement types.

Multiple series are produced to demonstrate the impact of different assumptions and because of uncertainty in future trends. Only the respective mid-range projection series is discussed in this chapter. In general, the chosen series conveys the broad features of likely future dynamics and patterns.

While the assumptions for the various projections are formulated from an assessment of short-term and long-term demographic trends, there is no certainty that any of the assumptions will be realised. Furthermore, Statistics NZ makes no judgement on the relative merits of the projected population changes.

These projections do not take into account non-demographic factors (for example, war, catastrophes, major government and business decisions, and changes to the ethnic classification) which may invalidate the projections. The unpredictability of migration trends, especially in the short term, can have a significant effect on projection results.

New Zealand’s subnational population

Under the medium series, the population of the North Island is projected to increase by an average of 0.9 percent a year between 2006 and 2031, from 3.19 million to 4.00 million. Seventy percent of this growth will be in the Auckland region with an increase of 1.4 percent a year. The remainder of the North Island is projected to grow by an average of 0.5 percent a year during this period. By 2031, the North Island is projected to be home to 78 percent of New Zealand's population, compared with 76 percent in 2006.

The population of the South Island is projected to increase by 0.6 percent a year, from just under 1 million in 2006 to 1.15 million in 2031. The subnational population estimates indicate that the South Island's population surpassed 1 million between 30 June 2006 and 30 June 2007. The faster projected growth of the North Island mainly reflects its higher rate of natural increase (births minus deaths) resulting from a higher birth rate and lower death rate than the South Island.

Thirteen of New Zealand's 16 regional council areas will be home to more people in 2031 than in 2006. Ten areas will experience population growth throughout the entire projection period. Population growth is projected to slow in all 16 regions between 2006 and 2031. This slowing of growth is due to declining natural increase. On average, births are projected to remain stable in number, reflecting the assumed decrease in fertility rates. In contrast, deaths are projected to increase in all regions as the population in the older ages increases.

The Auckland region is projected to account for 60 percent of New Zealand's population growth between 2006 and 2031, with an increase of 570,000 from 1.37 million to 1.94 million (medium series). The Auckland region would then be home to 38 percent of New Zealand's population in 2031, compared with 33 percent in 2006. Natural increase is projected to account for almost two-thirds of the population growth, with the remainder due to net migration gains.

Of New Zealand's 73 territorial authority areas, 44 are projected to have more people in 2031 than in 2006. However, population growth will generally slow over the projection period because of the narrowing gap between births and deaths. Between 2006 and 2011, 62 territorial authorities are projected to increase in population. Between 2026 and 2031, the number of territorial authorities with an increasing population will have reduced to 30.

The highest projected population growth rate over the 25-year period is for the Queenstown-Lakes district, with an average annual increase of 2.2 percent, from 24,100 in 2006 to 41,700 in 2031. Between 2006 and 2031, relatively high average annual growth is projected for Selwyn district (2.0 percent), Manukau city and Rodney district (1.7 percent), Waimakariri district (1.6 percent), Tauranga city (1.5 percent), and Franklin district (1.4 percent). Natural increase will contribute most of the population growth in Manukau city, while net migration gains will be most important in Queenstown-Lakes, Selwyn, Rodney, and Waimakariri districts as well as Tauranga city. Net migration and natural increase will contribute equally to population growth in Franklin district.

The general slowing of population growth over the projection period reflects the narrowing gap between births and deaths. Nationally, natural increase (births minus deaths) is projected to decrease from 169,000 during 2007–11 to 107,000 during 2027–31. At the regional level, only Auckland will have more births in 2027–31 than in 2007–11. All 16 regions will experience more deaths. As a result, by 2031 more deaths than births are expected in the Tasman, Marlborough, and West Coast regions.

Population by age

The population of all territorial authority areas is expected to be older in future. However, there will be considerable variation between areas, largely because of each area's current population age structure and different fertility and migration patterns.

At the national level, the median age (half the population is younger, and half older, than this age) is projected to increase from 36 years in 2006 to 40 years in 2031. At the subnational level in 2006, the median age ranged from 31 years in Manukau and Hamilton cities to 46 years in Thames-Coromandel district. By 2031, the median age is projected to range from 35 years in Manukau city to 55 years in Thames-Coromandel and South Wairarapa districts. A median age of 50 years or older is projected for eight territorial authority areas in 2031.

Twenty of the 73 territorial authority areas are projected to have more children (aged under 15 years) in 2031 than in 2006. The largest percentage increases will be in Queenstown-Lakes district (up an average of 2.0 percent a year, or 2,500 over 25 years), Selwyn district (1.3 percent, or 3,000), and Manukau city (1.1 percent, or 27,500). All three areas will gain children through net migration and an increase in births over the projection period. All territorial authority areas are projected to have a lower proportion of children in 2031 compared with 2006.

The working-age population (15–64 years) is projected to be higher in 22 territorial authority areas in 2031 than in 2006, and lower in the remaining 51 areas. The working-age population itself is projected to age. Between 2006 and 2011, 68 of the 73 territorial authority areas are projected to have an increase in population aged 40–64 years. In contrast, only 32 are projected to have an increase in population aged 15–39 years over the same period. The population aged 40–64 years is expected to peak in 2011 or 2016 for most areas as the large birth cohorts of the 1960s and early 1970s move through these ages.

Nationally, the number of older people (those aged 65 years and over, 65+) is projected to double between 2006 and 2031, with the fastest increase occurring after 2011. The increase in older people is due to higher life expectancy, accentuated by the large number of people born during the 1950s to early 1970s entering these ages.

At the subnational level, all territorial authority areas will have more older people in 2031 than in 2006, with 34 areas having more than doubled their population in the 65+ age group. Selwyn district is projected to be home to about 3.9 times the number of people aged 65+ in 2031 than in 2006 (medium series), while Queenstown-Lakes will be home to 3.4 times the number. In contrast, Waimate, South Waikato, Wanganui, Gore, Stratford, South Taranaki, and Waitaki districts, and Dunedin city, will have about 1.6 times as many in 2031 than in 2006.

All territorial authority areas are projected to have a higher proportion of older people in 2031 compared with 2006. The proportion in 2031 will be highest in Waitaki district (36 percent), followed by Hauraki, South Wairarapa, Thames-Coromandel, and Horowhenua districts (all 35 percent). In contrast, older people are projected to account for 14 percent of the population of Wellington, and 15 percent of Auckland and Manukau cities in 2031. In 2006, Kapiti Coast district (23 percent) had the highest proportion of older people, while the Chatham Islands territory along with Porirua, Manukau, and Wellington cities (all 8 percent) had the lowest. For New Zealand overall, about 21 percent of the population is projected to be aged 65+ in 2031, up from 12 percent in 2006.

Population by ethnicity

The projections indicate a continued concentration of population in the northern North Island. The combined regions of Northland, Auckland, Waikato, and Bay of Plenty had 52 percent of New Zealand's population in 2006. This is projected to increase to 55 percent in 2021. Over the same period, these four regions are projected to increase their share of the Asian population from 74 to 76 percent. The four northernmost regions are projected to maintain about 47 percent of the 'European or Other' population, 58 percent of the Mäori population, and 76 percent of the Pacific population.

Auckland region is projected to have the largest numerical increase of 'European or Other' people (up 60,000, from 856,000 to 917,000), Māori people (up 43,000, from 157,000 to 199,000), Asian people (up 201,000, from 269,000 to 470,000), and Pacific people (up 87,000, from 203,000 to 290,000).

All regions are projected to have greater ethnic diversity in future in terms of the numbers and proportions of people identifying with Māori, Asian, and Pacific ethnicities. The proportion of Auckland region's population identifying with an Asian ethnicity is projected to increase from 20 percent in 2006 to 27 percent in 2021, and the proportion identifying with a Pacific ethnicity from 15 percent to 17 percent.

Over the same period, the proportion identifying with a 'European or Other' ethnicity in Auckland region is projected to drop from 62 percent to 53 percent. The proportion of Gisborne region's population identifying as Mäori is projected to increase from 47 percent in 2006 to 50 percent in 2021, while its 'European or Other' share is projected to drop from 63 percent in 2006 to 61 percent in 2021. The ethnic shares for an area sum to more than 100 percent because people can and do identify with more than one ethnicity.

Rodney district is projected to have the largest numerical increase in 'European or Other' population, up 24,000, from 86,000 in 2006 to 110,000 in 2021. Manukau city is projected to have the largest numerical increase in the Māori population, up 16,000 from 54,000 to 70,000, and the Pacific population, up 55,000 from 100,000 to 155,000. The largest increase in Asian population is projected in Auckland city, with an increase of 69,000, from 109,000 in 2006 to 178,000 in 2021.

Most cities and districts are likely to have lower proportions of the population identifying with 'European or Other' ethnicities in future. In contrast, the Māori, Asian, and Pacific shares are generally projected to increase in territorial authority areas. The Māori, Asian, and Pacific shares are generally higher among territorial authority areas in the North Island. Kawerau, Wairoa, and Opotiki districts had 60, 59, and 57 percent of their populations, respectively, identifying as Mäori in 2006. These proportions are expected to increase to 64, 62, and 58 percent, respectively, in 2021.

Auckland city is projected to maintain the highest Asian share. One in four people living in Auckland city identified with an Asian ethnicity in 2006, and this is expected to increase to one in three in 2021. Manukau city is also projected to maintain a significant Asian population, with 31 percent of its population identifying with an Asian ethnicity in 2021 compared with 22 percent in 2006.

Manukau (29 percent) and Porirua (28 percent) cities had the highest Pacific shares in 2006. In 2021, 34 percent of people in Manukau city, and 31 percent of people in Porirua city, are projected to identify with a Pacific ethnicity.

European or other

Two-thirds of territorial authority areas are projected to have an increase in their 'European or Other (including New Zealander)' population during the 15-year projection period to 2021. However, the proportion of people in each area who identify with a 'European or Other' ethnicity is projected to drop in most areas. This reflects a combination of continued fertility rates below the national average, assumptions of net migration outflow for most areas, and an older age structure. The increasingly older age structure of the 'European or Other' population means fewer births (because of fewer women in the childbearing ages), more deaths, and lower momentum for future population growth compared with the Mäori, Pacific, and Asian populations.
Among the territorial authority areas, Christchurch city (313,000) had the largest 'European or Other' population in 2006, followed by Auckland city (256,000). These two cities will maintain the largest 'European or Other' populations by 2021.

Māori

The Māori population is projected to increase in all regions and most territorial authority areas during 2006–21. The growth is driven by the high rates of Mäori birth and natural increase, which generally offset any population losses due to migration and inter-ethnic mobility (people changing their ethnic identity). Ethnic 'inter-marriage' also makes an important contribution to population growth: about one-quarter of Māori births have a Māori father and a non-Māori mother. In addition, the Māori population has a young age structure, with relatively high proportions in the child and childbearing ages, and low proportions at the older ages. This provides a built-in momentum for future growth.

Among territorial authority areas, Manukau city had the largest Māori population in 2006. It is projected to experience the largest numerical increase in Māori population, up 16,000, from 54,000 in 2006 to 70,000 in 2021. However, the proportion of the Manukau city population who are Māori is projected to remain about 15 percent. Between 2006 and 2021, Manukau city will contain 9 percent of New Zealand's Māori population.

Asian

The Asian population is projected to increase in all territorial authority areas. The growth is mainly driven by the assumed levels of net migration, with natural increase (births minus deaths) playing a secondary role overall.

About two-thirds of the growth in the Asian population during 2006–21 is projected to occur in the four cities of the Auckland region, and almost half of the national growth is projected to occur in Auckland and Manukau cities. In Auckland city, one-third (34 percent) of its residents will identify with an Asian ethnicity by 2021, up from one-quarter (25 percent) in 2006. The Asian share in Manukau, North Shore, and Waitakere cities will increase from 22, 19, and 17 percent in 2006 to 31, 28, and 25 percent in 2021, respectively. These four cities will be home to 65 percent of New Zealand's Asian population in 2021, compared with 64 percent in 2006.

Pacific

The Pacific population is projected to increase in all territorial authority areas. The growth is driven by the high rates of Pacific births and natural increase. Ethnic inter-marriage also makes an important contribution to population growth: about one-quarter of Pacific births have a Pacific father and a non-Pacific mother. In addition, the Pacific population has a young age structure, with relatively high proportions in the child and childbearing ages, and low proportions at the older ages. This provides a built-in momentum for future growth. Pacific migration generally plays a relatively minor role in the projected population changes.

About 41 percent of the growth in New Zealand's Pacific population during 2006–21 is projected to occur in Manukau city. Its Pacific population is projected to increase by 55,000, from 100,000 in 2006 to 155,000 in 2021. By then, 36 percent of New Zealand's Pacific population will live in Manukau city, up from 33 percent in 2006. The next largest Pacific population increase is projected to occur in Waitakere city (up 17,000, from 31,000 in 2006 to 47,000 in 2021).

Families

The number of families in New Zealand is projected to increase by 288,000 (an average of 0.9 percent per year) between 2006 and 2031, from 1.17 million to 1.46 million. A family refers to a couple, with or without child(ren), or one parent with child(ren), usually living together in a household.

Fourteen of the 16 regions in New Zealand are projected to have more families in 2031 than in 2006. The largest increase in the number of families is projected in the Auckland region, with an annual average increase of 1.5 percent from 376,000 to 550,000. This accounts for 61 percent of the projected increase in the number of families at the national level. By 2031, 38 percent of all families in New Zealand are projected to live in the Auckland region, compared with 32 percent in 2006. Fewer families are projected in the Southland and West Coast regions by 2031.

Among territorial authority areas, 43 are projected to have more families in 2031 than in 2006. Growth in the number of families is projected to slow at the national level over the projection period, and a similar pattern is likely for most subnational areas. This trend reflects the slowing of population growth and the changing age structure of the population. While 14 territorial authority areas are projected to record a decrease in the number of families between 2006 and 2016, 43 are projected to record a decrease between 2021 and 2031.

There are three broad family types that are projected: 'couple without children' families, 'two-parent' families, and 'one-parent' families.

At the national level, the number of 'couple without children' families is projected to increase by an annual average of 1.7 percent, from 468,000 in 2006 to 721,000 in 2031. Couple without children families include (a) couples who will never have children, (b) couples who will have children in the future, and (c) couples whose children have left the parental home. Growth in (c) is expected to be the most significant, as the large number of people born after World War II reach 50 years and over. An increasing proportion of couples in (a) is also assumed to contribute to the increasing number of couple without children families, but to a lesser extent.

By 2031, couple without children families are projected to be the most common family type in nearly all territorial authority areas. The exception is Manukau city, where two-parent families will remain the most common family type. In 2006, couple without children families were the most common family type for 50 territorial authority areas, while two-parent families were the most common family type for the remaining 23.

The number of 'two-parent' families in New Zealand is projected to decrease from 481,000 in 2006 to 468,000 by 2031. This is due to a decreasing likelihood of being in this living arrangement type at most ages, reflecting continued trends towards single parenting and fewer couples having children. However, 13 territorial authority areas are projected to have more two-parent families in 2031 than in 2006. These are areas projected to have significant population growth. Despite the increase in the number of two-parent families in these areas, the share of families in this family type is projected to decrease for all territorial authority areas – due to faster growth in the numbers of couple without children families and one-parent families.

Nationally, the number of ‘one-parent’ families is projected to increase by 48,000 (an average of 0.8 percent per year), from 219,000 in 2006 to 267,000 in 2031. Increases are projected for 35 territorial authority areas, with the highest in Selwyn district and Manukau city (both 2.0 percent), Queenstown-Lakes district (1.9 percent), and Rodney district (1.6 percent). As children in families can be of any age, one-parent families include mature children living with an older parent.

Households

The number of households in New Zealand is projected to increase by 536,000 (an average of 1.2 percent a year), from 1.55 million in 2006 to 2.09 million in 2031. A household is defined as one person usually living alone, or two or more people usually living together and sharing facilities (for example, eating facilities, cooking facilities, bathroom and toilet facilities, a living area), in a private dwelling.

Household numbers should not be confused with building activity or dwelling numbers. 'Households' refer to private dwellings that are usually occupied by a person or group of people. Households therefore exclude non-private dwellings, unoccupied dwellings, and dwellings which are not the usual residence of people (for example, holiday homes, second homes).

All 16 regions are projected to have more households in 2031 than in 2006. The largest numerical increase is projected in the Auckland region, up an average of 1.8 percent a year from 466,000 in 2006 to 723,000 in 2031. This accounts for almost half (48 percent) of the national growth in the number of households projected over this period. By comparison, the Auckland region is projected to account for 60 percent of New Zealand's population growth between 2006 and 2031. By 2031, 35 percent of all households in New Zealand will be in the Auckland region, up from 30 percent in 2006. Among the 73 territorial authority areas in New Zealand, 64 are projected to have more households in 2031 than in 2006.

There are three broad household types that are projected: family households, one-person households, and other multi-person households.

In 2006, there were 1.12 million family households in New Zealand. This number is projected to increase by 277,000 (an average of 0.9 percent a year), to reach 1.40 million in 2031. The number of households containing a family (or families) is projected to increase in 43 territorial authority areas and decline in the remaining 30 areas. Changes in the number of family households are closely related to changes in the number of families in each area (nationally there was an average of 1.04 families per family household in 2006).

The family household is by far the most common household type, accounting for 72 percent of all New Zealand households in 2006. However, its share of all households nationally is projected to decline to 67 percent by 2031. A decline in share is projected for all territorial authority areas.

The number of one-person households in New Zealand is projected to increase by 240,000 (an average of 2.0 percent per year) from 363,000 in 2006 to 602,000 in 2031. The relatively large increase in this type of household is mainly due to the increasing number of people in the older age groups, with three-quarters of the growth occurring among those aged 60 years and over. Of all people in one-person households, 61 percent are projected to be aged 60 years and over in 2031, compared with 49 percent in 2006. All territorial authority areas are projected to have more one-person households in 2031 than in 2006, with numbers in Rodney district, Waitakere city, Manukau city, Franklin district, Waimakariri district, Selwyn district, and Queenstown-Lakes district more than doubling over the 25-year period. One-person households will account for a greater share of households in all territorial authority areas in 2031 compared with 2006.

Other multi-person households (households containing more than one person, but not containing a family) are projected to increase nationally from 68,000 in 2006 to 88,000 in 2031 – an increase of 20,000 or an average of 1.0 percent a year. Other multi-person households will account for around 4 percent of all households for most of the projection period. People aged 19–29 years will continue to account for about half of all people in other multi-person households. The largest numerical increases in the number of other multi-person households between 2006 and 2031 are projected in Auckland city (4,300), Christchurch city (2,100), and Manukau city (1,900). Increases of between 200 and 1,600 are projected in another 14 territorial authority areas.
The average size of New Zealand households is projected to decrease from 2.6 people in 2006 to 2.4 people in 2031.

Declining average household size is projected for all regional council areas and territorial authorities, and reflects an increasing proportion of one-person households and a decrease in the average size of family households. Average family size is projected to decline largely because of an increase in the proportion of 'couple without children' families (which contain two people) and a decrease in the proportion of 'two-parent' families (which contain about four people, on average). These trends are driven mainly by the general ageing of the population.

The projections indicate that household growth is likely in all regions and most territorial authority areas, including some areas projected to experience population decline. At the national level, the projected increase in the number of households (an average of 1.2 percent per year) between 2006 and 2031 is greater than the projected growth of both families (0.9 percent) and population (0.8 percent), reflecting the trend towards smaller average household size. The household growth rate is projected to exceed the population growth rate in all regions and territorial authority areas.

The medium series of the 2006-base subnational population projections indicates that three regions – Gisborne, West Coast, and Southland – are projected to have fewer people in 2031 than in 2006. However, all these regions are projected to experience an increase in the number of households. Similarly, 29 territorial authority areas are projected to have fewer people in 2031 than in 2006, but 20 of these are projected to have more households.

These trends are a further reflection of changes in the age structure of the population, with all territorial authority areas projected to have more older people (65 years and over) in 2031 than in 2006. In contrast, 53 territorial authority areas are projected to have fewer children (aged 0–14 years) in 2031.

More information

Subnational projections are updated and released every 2–3 years.
The following information on subnational demographic projections is available on the Statistics NZ website:

Subnational demographic projections by age    

  • Updated 2006-base subnational population projections have the estimated resident population of each area at 30 June 2006 as a base, and cover the period to 2031 at five-year intervals.
  • Detailed projection results, including projections by five-year age groups and sex, for regions, territorial authorities, and area units ('suburbs') are available from Table Builder.

Subnational demographic projections by ethnicity

  • Updated 2006-base subnational ethnic projections are available for four broad and overlapping ethnic populations – 'European or Other (including New Zealander)', Māori, Asian, and Pacific.
  • Selected information is published in the tables and more information is available for users requiring other ethnic population projections.

Subnational family and household projections 

Additional information about subnational demographic projections

 





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